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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 23/12/2015

 

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Renzi criticises German dominance in EU

The austerity policy pushed through by Angela Merkel has played into the hands of populists across Europe, Renzi said. (© picture-alliance/dpa)

 

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has criticised Germany's role in Europe as too dominant. "Europe has to serve all 28 countries, not just one," he said to the Financial Times on Monday. Renzi has taken up the fight against Germany's anachronistic austerity policy, some commentators write approvingly. Others dismiss his criticism as a cheap way of gaining votes.

Wiener Zeitung - Austria

Criticism of Germany justified

Renzi's comment that Berlin's dominant policies are responsible for the crises among its European neighbour states hits the nail on the head, the liberal daily Wiener Zeitung believes: "It is true that 'Europe must be there for all 28 members'. The statement by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble at the CDU party conference that the 'worst must improve', clearly illustrates the dilemma. Germany is the minimum standard for German European politicians.That is arrogant. ... If all EU countries functioned like Germany it would be the end of the EU model. 28 top export nations would flood the world with their goods, which would then resist them tooth and nail. Global economic chaos would be the result. So Renzi is right with his diagnosis. The correct medication would be a European economic policy and European financial compensation. The Germans don't like that idea, but that's exactly why their wings should be clipped." (23/12/2015)

Il Sole 24 Ore - Italy

Italy needs partners for its change of course

Italy approved its budget for 2016, which foresees a higher deficit than planned. Rome should not start the battle against the austerity policy on its own, the liberal business daily Il Sole 24 Ore warns: "There are good reasons for an expansive budget manoeuvre. So it would be calamitous if come spring Europe were to force us to correct the budget plan and subject it to the dictates of an anachronistic austerity policy. The European offensive launched by our prime minister must be seen in this context. … One can debate endlessly about whether national interests are best pushed through with painstaking discussions or by pounding the table with your fist. In both cases the main thing is to be able to count on credible alliances. … We must assume, or at least hope, that Renzi forged such alliances before he launched his offensive." (23/12/2015)

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung - Germany

In the end everyone want's Germany's help

Criticising Germany's role in the EU is just a cheap ploy for winning votes nowadays, writes the conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: "On top of the once again spreading conviction that Berlin's 'austerity policy' is evil, we now regularly hear claims that Germany is using it to subjugate its European partners. This traditional myth is now mobilising voters from Spain to Greece. Spain will 'never become a German appendage', announced Podemos leader Iglesias after the election. The sovereignty of his party was a top priority, he proclaimed. … In the end, however, they all automatically assume that during restoring of national sovereignty they will be able to rely on European solidarity, or in other words on the redistribution of wealth in every conceivable form. And then too, all eyes will once again be trained on Europe." (23/12/2015)

POLITICS

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El Mundo - Spain

Spain's big parties must join forces

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's conservative People's Party (PP) lost its absolute majority in the general elections and will only be able to continue in power with the backing of the socialists (PSOE) in parliament. Opposition leader Pedro Sánchez must bite the bullet for the sake of his country, the conservative daily El Mundo demands: "The common good, economic stability and common sense demand that the PSOE understand the need for this pact for governability. This is not easy for Sánchez because the PP has always been his main adversary and his relations with Rajoy are tense, but there is no alternative if we want to prevent Spain from sliding into a state of ungovernability and instability. In the medium and long term Sánchez could benefit from this pact, which would demonstrate his political stature and reaffirm PSOE's image as a responsible and reliable alternative." (23/12/2015)

Yeni Şafak - Turkey

War will be followed by negotiations with Kurds

The major offensive launched a week ago by the Turkish government against the Kurdish underground organisation PKK killed 23 civilians in the town of Cizre in southeastern Turkey on Tuesday alone, the pro-Kurdish HDP party has reported. Once this military crackdown ends Ankara will resume the peace talks with PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, the pro-government daily Yeni Şafak believes: "Ankara has a strategy. As soon as the PKK suffers a major defeat in its war in the cities the desire for a political solution [on the part of the Kurds] will be reactivated. Civilian organisations and opinion leaders will have their place in this process. In addition to starting a reform process and getting a new constitution in the works the government is expected to effect a change in the political climate. At precisely that stage Öcalan, whose intervention only makes sense once the ground has been prepared, is expected to enter the scene." (23/12/2015)

Jutarnji list - Croatia

Putin will go on living with sanctions

The EU is extending its economic sanctions against Russia until 31 July 2016, the European Council announced on Monday. An end to the measures is not in sight, the liberal daily Jutarnji list comments: "The EU's problem is that it gave the annexation of Crimea as the reason for the sanctions. Since Russia has no intention of handing the area back to Ukraine, the reason for the sanctions will not disappear. The only way the EU can keep face in future is if Russia fulfils the terms of the Minsk Protocol. … Although the sanctions are weakening the Russian economy and the rouble is depreciating, we can't expect this to prompt Putin to change his political course. … Despite the impact of the sanctions on the Russian economy Putin is ready to live with them for a long time to come. He has never been more popular in his own country." (23/12/2015)

De Standaard - Belgium

Belgian coalition can compromise after all

In Belgium the centre-right coalition unexpectedly reached agreement on a series of contentious topics on Tuesday. At last a compromise, the liberal daily De Standaard comments with relief: "The subject of security is playing a conspiciously large role. … We will buy 34 aircraft to replace the worn-out F16, two frigates and six minehunters. The number of troops will go down but not below 25,000. So Belgium will no longer be the lame duck in Nato. In exchange for these concessions the [right-wing conservative] N-VA gave up its ideological rejection of the reintegration of chronically ill workers on the job market. … With this good combination of decisions the coalition partners can go off on their Christmas holidays with an easy conscience. Rather than bickering this time they opted for the live and let live approach." (23/12/2015)

REFLECTIONS

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Ouest France - France

Jean-Pierre Barbier and Antoine Arjakovsky warn against misplaced secularism

The Association of French Mayors in November published a guide to help city councillors apply the secularism enshrined in the French constitution. The publication has resulted in the current controversy over nativity scenes. The mayors are taking the call for secularism too far, conservative politician Jean-Pierre Barbier and historian Antoine Arjakovsky write in the regional daily Ouest-France: "The secularism they defend results in a sort of false neutrality that goes as far as to deny history, traditions and values. This is not a workable solution. … You can't stop barbaric fanaticism with less religion. Let's be clear: the problem of French secularism does not focus on Christianity, Islam or Judaism, but on fundamentalism. You can't counter fundamentalism simply by doing away with Christianity. Fighting the propagators of 'holy ignorance' does not imply abandoning the principles of authenticity, identity, or - of course - respect for liberty, equality and fraternity." (22/12/2015)

ECONOMY

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Gazeta Wyborcza - Poland

At least restrain capitalism on Christmas Eve

Only three Polish food retail chains have heeded the call by unions to close their stores at 2 p.m. on Christmas Eve. December 24 is a normal working day in Poland, and stores are usually open until 9 or 10 p.m. Shopping hours should be reduced across the board, the liberal daily Gazeta Wyborcza urges: "In the capitalism that we've developed over the last 25 years we've grown used to thinking that longer shopping hours are an essential part of our free market economy. But what would we lose as consumers if stores weren't open for so long - for example just until 2 p.m.? Nothing at all. At worst, a few people wouldn't be able to buy the eggs they want for a certain dish, or something else they don't absolutely need. And in such cases you can always just ask your neighbour." (23/12/2015)

Maaseudun Tulevaisuus - Finland

Why Finnish gifts make Finns happy

Christmas offers the Finns a wonderful opportunity to boost the country's economy, the liberal daily Maaseudun Tulevaisuus comments: "The Christmas message is certainly not about a huge mountain of goods, given that the baby Jesus himself was born in very modest circumstances. Presents should be bought carefully rather than in large quantities. This Christmas in particular we should buy local products, whether it's food, gifts or the Christmas tree, because by doing so we help the Finnish economy. Small, decisions of everyday life and during the holidays can often have a major impact. If you buy Finnish at Christmas, you're making a gift to all Finns." (23/12/2015)

SOCIETY

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Süddeutsche Zeitung - Germany

Exodus to Europe: Quarreling over Christmas dinner worthwhile

The refugee crisis will be the main topic over Christmas dinner this year, comments the centre-left daily Süddeutsche Zeitung: "The last topic that was as omnipresent in social discourse as the wave of refugees is now was the fall of the Berlin Wall and German reunification. … 2015 has perhaps given [family gatherings] a completely different dynamic, with the grandfather who was driven out of East Prussia as a child talking about the war once more because the grandchildren who are seeing refugees in 'welcome classes' at school and may be suddenly showing interest in where their own family had to flee from. The refugee crisis makes the political private and vice versa. Ideally the experiences of several different generations complement each other. And where arguments are inevitable, a row over Pegida is more worthwhile than fighting over who gets the breast and who gets the leg. It is a gift for society when citizens take up the res publica, the public affair, as their own cause, even when it becomes controversial. Too much silent night is bad for democracy." (23/12/2015)

Právo - Czech Republic

Celebrating Christmas till the doctor comes

Traditionally the Czechs eat carp on Christmas Eve, which has led to the general belief that doctors make the most emergency calls at Christmas because they have to help people who choke on fish bones. The left-leaning daily Právo knows better: "This belief about fish bones is wrong. Far worse for us are fatty foods, alcohol and stress. Women fall out of windows while cleaning the panes, men topple from roofs when stringing lights. A special chapter is dedicated to cuts, burns and other accidents in the Christmas kitchen. Here the stress of preparing the Christmas roast takes its toll. Other traditions such as tossing melted lead into water to foretell the future can also be dangerous. Malicious champagne corks and girls throwing around their shoes to see if they'll marry in the coming year never fail to hit their mark, and even cause mild concussions. ... Even at Christmas moderation should be the order of the day. Winding up in the hospital with bilious colic or alcohol poisoning is definitely not what you could call a pleasant Christmas surprise." (23/12/2015)

Dagens Nyheter - Sweden

Why we all complain at Christmas

The centre-left daily Dagens Nyheter offers a psychological explanation for the ubiquitous griping in the Christmas season: "Well before Christmas people are already complaining about everything under the sun: The weather isn't appropriate. People drink too much - think of the children! - and eat too much unhealthy food. The pig was too sad before it went to slaughter. ... We buy way too many presents. And Christmas is too secular. Or too Christian. Or too Muslim now. ... If you look closer, this Christmas moaning reveals our problems with two important aspects of the human condition: on the one hand we must assume responsibility for our lives and change what we don't like. On the other we must accept what we can't change." (23/12/2015)

Dimokratia - Greece

Gay demonstration in Athens disrespectful

The Greek parliament approved registered partnerships for homosexual couples on Tuesday despite opposition from conservative MPs and the Orthodox Church. On the same day just a head of the vote LGBT activists demonstrated in front of the Athens Metropolitan Cathedral, with some gay couples dressed up as priests and kissing each other. That definitely goes too far, the conservative daily Dimokratia fumes: "It is absolutely unacceptable that while the Greek parliament dares to pass this law with an overwhelming majority, those concerned show with their behaviour that they are unable to fit into the society that has accepted them with a heavy heart. They strive for equality but want to be above the rest; they push through their own position and ridicule what many people consider sacred. The homosexuals should be ashamed of their demonstration in front of the Metropolitan Cathedral." (22/12/2015)

Financial Times - United Kingdom

Colonial past should be studied, not erased

A large group of students at Britain's elite Oxford University have called for a statue of benefactor Cecil Rhodes to be removed from campus on the grounds that as the founder of Rhodesia he stands for colonialism and racism. The conservative daily the Financial Times warns against what it sees as a dangerous trend that is not confined to Oxford: "By policing what they hear and see, students deprive themselves of the intellectual challenge of debate and disagreement. Independent thinkers cannot thrive in artificial safe spaces. It is in the interests of university officials everywhere to preserve a freethinking and fertile academic environment. Sadly, they often back down. ... Airbrushing out figures because they offend our contemporary values is no way to approach the study of history. If the Oxford students do not understand this point, they should question why they are at university at all." (22/12/2015)

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